Into the Mist

London, and close to the whole of the UK, has been covered in mist for the past few days. We travelled by train to Kent, south east of London, for a short stay with friends and it felt like our train was launching us deep into the world of Dickens.

The view that greeted us out of our train window was a world of swirling white, punctuated with the odd black stick of a tree peering out of the mist. I was waiting for Magwitch to jump out from behind a gravestone and snarl something at us through rotten teeth.

Thankfully the train knew its destination and we got safely to Tonbridge where we had a lovely time with some friends, and yesterday went for a long, muddy walk through Knole Park.

Knole Park is one of the few deer-parks in England to have survived the past 500 years (there were 700 in the 16th century) and the only one in Kent. The park was first enclosed by a fence in 1456 by Thomas Bourchier to indulge a passion for hunting, which was popular among the nobility of the time.

In some ways the Tudor deer-park marked a transition between the medieval game forest and the more ornamental parks of the 17th and 18th centuries. Elements of the medieval landscape survive in the hawthorn, oak, yew, hornbeam, silver birch, bird maple and ash trees that once dominated the woodlands of the Weald. And it is these that contribute to the timelessness of the park: to the fact that it has changed little since Thomas Sackville’s death in 1608.

This is what we saw:

This is similar to the view from our train window


A deer little meeting in Knole Park
Knole House in the light mist
The mist thickened as we walked back. Magwitch could have been here too

Travelling back into London, we clashed headlong into severe delays on our underground line. When we left London on Wednesday, we had the same experience as we ended up being squashed like sardines against fellow tube travellers. Yesterday, we stood and waited 20 minutes for the eight promised minutes to pass until the arrival of our tube. Tempers were clearly fraying …

The tube arrived and we began what resembled a process of squeezing toothpaste back into the tube. Commuters shoved and pushed their way on to the tube. We two included. The tube doors closed and we heard a commotion near the doors. Turned out a young chap had stood himself against the “leaning cushion” next to the door. Inevitably, every single commuter had pushed past him to get into the tube. The last person to do so bore the brunt of this young chap’s anger. We heard some yelling, and then a final,

“I don’t care if you don’t speak English, don’t push me. I’ve got an injured arm, so don’t push me.”


Thank goodness the young Frenchman, on the receiving end of the anger, was not travelling alone. After a slight pause:

“I can speak English,” his friend said.

“Good. Tell your friend not to push.”

“How could he not push you?”

And so ensued a pointless argument that clearly went nowhere except into escalated anger, raised eyebrows around the tube and a whole lot of sighing.

The best way to end the argument, according to the aggrieved young injured person, was to grab the best weapon from his arsenal of common sense.

“Shut up!”

His continental adversary retorted, in his wonderfully accented annoyance, “You shut up too!”

“WHAT did you just say?”

And, in future, young man, my advice would be to steer clear of arguing in this manner. You won’t win.

“I said. The same. As you.”

Touché, dear friend, touché.

Tension filled the air. The tube travellers nearly applauded when aggrieved young commuter alighted at what may, or may not, have been his chosen destination. We travelled in cleared air for a few refreshing minutes before arriving at our stop and emerging, once again, into London mist.

Happy New Year one and all.

Sunshine signing off for today and for 2010! See you in the New Year.


37 thoughts on “Into the Mist

  1. Great photos! And, yikes, that does sound awkward on the Tube–but, indeed, you won’t win when insulting a Frenchman. Glad to hear the injured party exited sooner rather than later.

    Take care, my friend–miss you at my blog!

    Happy New Year,

  2. My daughters have started using “Touche” in their vocabulary with regularity. Second only to “Awkward” which it sounds like the trainride was. It’s very difficult to be in small spaces when an arguement arises and there is no where to escape. Sounds like Knole House and Park were awesome. Keep the pictures and stories coming. You are living my dream. Blessings, Jeanne

    1. Awkward it certainly was! Thank you, Jeanne – glad you’re enjoying the photos!
      I see you’re having thick mist and fog over your way – must be so difficult to drive in that, and obviously impossible to fly in it xx

  3. Very interesting post! So there’s even a long historical background to the British nature areas.

    No wonder the English do period dramas so well (besides the excellent actors etc) – they have beautiful settings to film them in.

    About the tube story: Well, there have to be SOME disadvantages to living in London! 😉

    Hope you have a good New Year’s Eve. Everything of the best for 2011!

    1. I thought about those period dramas as we walked through Knole Park yesterday – perfect setting, hey? We also saw some reindeer, which was pretty exciting, but didn’t get any photos.
      And true, about the tube story! haha!
      Happy New Year to you too, Lisa – much health and happiness to you always xx

  4. “Awkward”! The fun of public transportation. 😀 I don’t miss it a bit. My last city-train ride was when I was 9 1/2 months pregnant, the train was overfilled and not a single person offered to let me have their seat. There was also some emergency delays, so that a 15 minute ride turned into 40+. Having to stand so long in one position put me in the hospital with high blood pressure and Evan came shortly after. Never again!

    1. Oh wow – that sounds like a nightmare, Winn. Yikes. Commuters can be so rude – it always bothers me to see a pregnant woman standing on the tube. I’m not surprised you say never again.
      Much love and best wishes to you and your family for 2011. Lovely to have connected with you xx

  5. Let me guess: The guy who said, ““I don’t care if you don’t speak English…” was American, wasn’t he? Ever time I hear one of my countrymen spout those words, I grit my teeth. We’re not all that rude, I swear.

    Your Knole Park is just lovely. What a fabulous place to visit. Thanks so much for sharing your photos.

    Happy New Year to you, Sunshine! With the new job and all the adventure on your horizon, 2011 is bound to be a spectacular year for you!

    1. You know what, Maura? He wasn’t American. He was a local, cockney English lad. You can hold your head high!
      I’m looking forward to welcoming 2011 and seeing all that it holds. Blessings to you and yours too xx

  6. We look northwest over the Hudson River, just north of NYC. The past few days have been misty, so the river and the snowcovered hills on the west side looks like a dream or something on stage behind a scrim. Really beautiful.

    I recently had some chick snipe at me on the 42d street crosstown bus that my elbow was in her back. Sorry to say I sniped right back….it’s rush hour, dear, deal with it. Sometimes there are just too many people in too little space.

    1. Wow, that sounds just beautiful, bsb.
      I know what you mean … too many people, and when you’ve been waiting and waiting to get somewhere, patience and space are in seriously short supply.

  7. Do your friends speak in that cockney rhyme? I had the pleasure of meeting a couple from Kent who taught me how to understand it. Sadly I still couldn’t make heads or tails of after an hour and several pints later 😉
    Happy New Year my friend! I am very happy to have found you this year 🙂

    1. Our friends are Saffas like us, so they don’t. I have heard some of the cockney rhyming slang, though, but don’t know too much about it.
      Happy New Year to you too, dear friend – me too! xx

  8. Ah Sunshine, You went near my old stomping ground- we used to live on the Weald of Kent. Knole is so full of pomp and circumstance! A gentleman’s power-seat! Did you see the white stag while you were there?

    Questions, questions….

    The tube fray was beautifully told as well: it is very unusual for anyone to actually speak there as a rule, unless they are three sheets to the wind.

    Brilliant post – thanks 🙂

    1. Thanks so much, Kate. Ah, your old stomping ground – what we saw of the area seemed really lovely, although it was well misty! We didn’t see the white stag – will have to look out for it next time.
      You’re right – silence and meaningful looks usually rule on the tube – it was interesting and awkward to witness the interchange.

  9. Your pictures are beautiful and I love the comments on them. Sorry to hear about the frayed nerves but hope today is looking brighter.

    Subways in Hong Kong are busier and pushier, but no one gets mad. They just know everyone needs to get on. Wonder how that works?

    1. Yeah, but at least in the UK, you know no one’s going to get shot. Here in the States, you never know. Here, you’d start looking for an exit, just in case.

  10. Where’s the singing driver when you need him? He might have eased the tension on the commute. Glad all ended well.

    As usual, you have sent me on a delightful journey with your beautiful photos. Blessings to you and yours in 2011, Diane

  11. The argument sounds like something you’d hear on the school playground. I’m glad it ended relatively harmlessly. Lovely pictures and words to go with them, Sunshine. Happy New Year!

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